| CARACAS, Sept 5
CARACAS, Sept 5 A prominent journalist and
lawyer on the Venezuelan island of Margarita was charged Monday
with money laundering and will remain behind bars, according to
family and a rights group, following his detention after
publicizing a protest against President Nicolas Maduro.
Videos published by activists, purportedly from the locality
of Villa Rosa, showed scores of people banging pots and pans and
jeering the socialist leader on Friday evening.
More than 30 people were briefly detained, activists said on
Saturday, in part of what the opposition is calling a major
crackdown by the socialist government during a campaign for a
referendum to recall Maduro.
He says a coup is being planned against him.
All those held in Margarita were released after a few hours
except Braulio Jatar, 58, who was picked up on Saturday morning
on his way to host his regular morning radio show, according to
They knew nothing about his whereabouts until midnight that
day when intelligence agents came to the family home and
searched it, allowing them to send him clothes, according to his
sister, Boston-based Ana Julia Jatar, 60.
She said she had received a voice message through WhatsApp
from her brother the previous night saying, "This is going to
get ugly," adding that arrests had already begun.
The public display of anger against Maduro on Friday night
was rare as the president normally only speaks at set-piece
events where hundreds of red-clad supporters cheer his every
On Thursday, hundreds of thousands of people marched
peacefully through Caracas to demand that a plebiscite on
Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chavez and whose popularity has
plummeted due to an economic crisis, be held this year.
Of 163 people detained in relation to the Sept. 1 protests,
29 remain behind bars, according to local rights group Penal
Forum. Five of them have been formally charged.
This brings the total of political prisoners in Venezuela to
93, said Alfredo Romero, the director of Penal Forum.
Both Romero and Jatar's sister confirmed the charge of money
laundering and that he would remain behind bars.
Government officials have sought to downplay the incident in
Margarita, saying videos have been "manipulated" by
pro-opposition media, and showing clips of their own where
Maduro was cheered by supporters.
The Ministry of Information did not immediately reply to
requests for comment on Jatar's case or other arrests.
(Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and James Dalgleish)